Blog | 9 July 2014

The value of content marketing in retail

The retail landscape has seen something of an upheaval in recent times. For nigh on a thousand years it operated on the basis that I would go through a door to a room with things in it that I might want to buy. When I found the thing I wanted, I would exchange something physical (for argument’s sake, let’s call it money) to take ownership of it.

In the last few years I find that I can get those same things without opening either my front door, my wallet, or even my mouth through e-commerce and online shopping. This is what I broadly wanted and the shopkeepers have now become obliged to provide it or risk going out of business.

Retail and the customer magazine

One facet of the retail trade, which until recently showed little signs of changing, was the customer magazine. Even as the likes of Amazon envision flying your new shoes to you via remote controlled drones or leaving them in a bin at a railway station, the printed customer magazine refuses to budge.

Is this stubbornness on the part of the retail fraternity?

I’m being a little disingenuous; the customer magazine for retail has evolved significantly. There are more digital versions, retail apps and point-of-sale displays using repurposed content than ever before. But despite this the printed magazine remains visible, valuable and frequently bought. Just as retailers (and many other sectors if we are honest) are shifting their mainstream services digital, so the need for tactility and experience becomes something of a premium.

Creating brand experience through content

For a growing number of us, the only reason we would go into a shop is for the ‘experience’ it offers us. Hence brands such as Nike and Apple run experience centres, knowing that their products are mostly bought online. Conversely online only retailers such as eBay and ASOS are considering bricks and mortar strategies as a way to get closer to their consumers.

Healthy mag

Experience is also linked to authority and engagement. Healthy, the magazine River produces for the UK health retailer Holland and Barrett is intended to extend the brand’s status as health experts which in turn improves brand loyalty, equity and generates revenues from both copy sales and repeat visits in-store.

Content – whether in the form of an offline product like a customer magazine or online content intended to support information search – helps to enforce this position of authority, creating a sweet spot for the retailer and an extension of the customer journey.

The return on investment of content marketing for retail

Good content is also proven to be good for the bank balance, too. Ailment related health content produced for Holland and Barrett’s Good Life MOT New Year campaign generated a 50% increase in sales in specific ailment related product lines.

The demand for tactility and ownership of printed materials is explored in River’s recent whitepaper; Rock.Paper.Glass. Ownership is a hard-wired human need and so perhaps it’s no surprise that printed content will continue to thrive in the retail sector as digital communications become mainstream and the experience of printed materials achieve a premium status in this growing experience economy.

Download the white paper:  Rock.Paper.Glass

Dafina Keys
Dafina Keys